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Work Ethic

Updated 9/21/2003

Updated 9/2/2004

The so-called work ethic is generally construed to be a good and laudable thing.  It fancies itself a virtue, but like most double-edged swords, it must be handled with care.

An ethic, by definition, is a set of moral principles.  The word derives from the Greek ethos -- which in turn is “the characteristic spirit or attitudes of a community, people, or system.”  Applying work as a modifier, suggests that the work ethic is a characteristic attitude of a group toward what constitutes the morality of work.  This can, unfortunately, be taken to extremes.  For example, working like a Trojan derives from the people of Troy being famed for laboring “energetically and cheerfully at even the most arduous tasks.” [1]

The extreme nature, of course, arrives in the form of a workaholic -- a phrase coined by a pastoral counselor Wayne Oates, who is said to have discovered the concept when his “five year old son asked for an appointment to see him.” Such over indulgence in what should be a basis of a moral principle, is clearly a problem.  In fact, the past tense of work is worked or wrought, the latter which is “beaten out or shaped by hammering.”  Thus having worked begins to gain something of a negative connotation.  

To do “good work” is a good thing.  But when the work ethic becomes a pretense for what amounts to slavery, it’s not such a wonderful concept.  And in the Corporate State, this is where the double edged sword has come back to haunt us.  Clearly, the workers of the world are laboring far too much -- and in the process getting hammered out of shape.   CEOs take home hundreds of millions even when the company is losing money, while Independent Accounting Firms assist in cooking the books, so that even the shareholders take a bath.  Had there been a Rule of 20-50 in place, then the work ethic of the CEOs might have been a whole lot closer to that of the real workers.

In the United States -- the alleged land of the free -- it’s taken to extremes.  Whereas in Europe, workers regularly receive five weeks of paid vacation -- and a vastly more relaxed workplace -- their counterparts in America are under immense pressure to produce.  With Stress and Longevity as bedfellows, many Americans are digging an early grave.

And even if they escape the early grave, what precisely do they gain by all their hard work? Is the goal of every working person the opportunity to retire to Florida, where hurricanes often happen [Hurricane Frances (2004) is aiming for central Florida as this is being written]? Or perhaps find a rest spot in order to attempt to recover from the decades of hard work? Principal Financial Group in an advertisement in Time Magazine portrays what appears to be a woman in her seventies in scuba style wear heading out of the beach with a surfboard [2]. As has been pointed out by an irreverent youngster to the statement that two positives cannot make a negative: Yeah, right!

The less than subtle aspect of the Principal Financial Group Ad, however, is the headline -- "Why do we work?" -- emblazoned across the chest and arm of the seventy year old. Is the implied answer that we finally begin to enjoy life after four decades of work, that we now deserve such fun? What about in the interim? How much money, by the way, is Principal Financial Group making with our money during this time? [Don't even ask. The Banksters are unlikely to answer anyway.]

What is particularly dismal about the situation is that the most ardent proponents of this bastardized work ethic -- the same people who have promoted the similarly bastardized version of The Golden Rule -- are the ones who most benefit from the efforts of the less benefited slaves under them.  The American Aristocracy, for example, are living in the best of circumstances -- a situation directly attributed to the fact they those who work for anyone, are indeed working for someone’s benefit other than that of the worker.  

Note for example, that in 1970, the average Chief Executive Officer of a corporation was receiving in total compensation an average of 47 times the compensation of the lowest paid worker of that corporation.  In 2002, this multiplier had arrived at an average value of roughly 500.  This is hideous in the extreme!  One CEO, after laying off thousands of workers, was boastful of saving the company 25 million dollars in wages and benefits.  Her salary, by the way, was 75 million dollars -- or three times the alleged savings.  

The Corporate Rule version of the work ethic -- the essence of Capitalism -- can thus never be considered to be a good thing when anyone’s efforts and work benefit an owner or employer far more than it benefits the worker.  Working for anyone -- that is to say working so that others reap the bulk of the benefits of the work, and do so without the willing and enthusiastic consent of the worker -- is a travesty.  The fact that the Boards of Directors of these corporations allow this highway robbery is an example of the pointless nature of having a board to begin with -- especially when CEOs and other regularly control the boards with all manner of legalized barn carpeting.  [And with the members of the board receiving equally unconscionable fees may also have something to do with it.]  

Capitalism is not, in and of itself, a bad thing.  But employer/employee wage ratios of 50 to 500 (or more) quickly becomes unconscionable.  The idea that an employer gives an employee a job or work is ludicrous.  Rather an employer entices an employee to work for others by establishing an organization where all can benefit according to their contribution.

An issue of perhaps even more significance than the wholesale financial slavery to the corporate masters is the potential for the fouling of our nest. The earth, for example, cannot support our busi-ness forever.

Barry Brooks [3] does an admirable job of "Refining the Work Ethic". His opening lines tell the tale: "Should we go home and open cans to keep our can operners busy? The waster of spoiled food would be much worse than the imagined waste of can openers waiting to be used again." He goes on to note that the mad rush to achieve full employment -- keeping virtually everyone working for the elite -- is running headlong into the limits of growth on a finite earth.

The craziness increases when we realize that we have built labor-saving machines so that we can now work longer and harder. Where are the fruits of our technology? Why can we have "unearned income" as a fundamental tenet of Capitalism, and then ask people to "earn" their living? Work was once the means to an end -- providing the goods and services we wanted for life. The work ethic makes the means the end.

For the complete excellent article by Barry, link to http://home.earthlink.net/~durable.

BTW, Barry's article is only two pages long and thus won't require much work on your part. But you deserve it anyway. As Abraham has noted: "earning a living is a vibrational misunderstanding." It's really about attracting anything and everything you need. It's time to live off the unearned income derived from being a human being living on the planet earth. It's time to initiate the "Play Ethic."

Corporate State         Corporate Politics         Corporate Rule

Forward to:  

Success         Capitalism         Stock Tips

CEOs         The Rule of 20-50         Independent Accounting Firms

American Foreign Policy         Globalism, Neo-Tribalism and False Reality



[1]  Robert Hendrickson, The Facts on File; Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, Checkmark Books, New York, 2000, pg 570.

[2] Advertisement, Principal Financial Group, Time Magazine, 26 April 2004.

[3] Barry Brooks, http://home.earthlink.net/~durable



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